The Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Library participated in Open Access Week (OAW) for the first time in 2010. The concept was introduced to JKUAT by Ms Jane Gikandi who was the then Head of the ICT section and has moved on to a different university. The library entered the INASP OAW 2010 competition and won a grant of $300. This helped us in printing of promotional materials.
The success of our OAW activities can largely be attributed to our partnership with students from the beginning. We shared the concept of OA with our students and they ran with it. Together with our students we came up with very interesting and creative ideas. Some of the activities were workshops on plagiarism detection and referencing techniques and practical training on use of open resources. We also had an OAW exhibition at our graduation pavilion where we displayed leaflets, posters and brochures on OA. Students were also encouraged to sign up in the OAW site. The activity that stole the show however was the beauty pageant which was an initiative of the students. The beauty pageant was to crown Mr. and Miss OA for the year. It was so well choreographed that we could not believe that they organized it in one week. At the end of the week they were already asking when the next one would be. What amazed us the most was their creativity and energy levels. From then on, they were hooked.
Under the guidance of the JKUAT library staff, the students entered the INASP OAW 2011 competition and got another award. Having mentored them, we let them run the show. They set up an exhibition at the graduation pavilion of the open source software available. The table was a beehive of activities. Indeed they never ran out of visitors to their stand the whole week. We had student volunteers manning other desks. It was interesting watching students passing on the OA message in their language ie sheng which is a Swahili language based slang that is common among Kenyan youths. Nothing beats preaching the gospel of OA in the students own language. The climax of the week was of course the beauty pageant which saw the crowning of JKUAT’s Mr. and Miss Open Access 2011. The crowns were handed to Miss Winkate Muthini and Mr. Anthony Gecaga by the OA 2010 title holders, Mr. Chris Kagiko and Miss Carol Oginga.
The library was lucky again to win this year’s OAW award. We have however been forced to reschedule the beauty pageant to 9th November 2012 due to a clash with another important university event that could not be rescheduled. However, the student OAW organizing committee of about 10 students will be involved in visits to chairmen of academic departments to sensitize them on our IR during the OAW. The culmination of the OAW will be the beauty pageant. The excitement of the beauty pageant is already in the air. Auditions have however already been done.
The theme for this year’s OAW is the JKUAT OA Repository. The IR policy was launched on 22nd June this year. It is available in pdf on our university’s website under university documents at http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/university-policies/ We are at the stage of creating awareness of the IR and uploading content. Towards creating awareness, the library with financial support from EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) held a workshop targeting researchers and lecturers on 18th October 2012. One of the workshop’s outcomes was the identification of JKUAT IR’s ambassadors whose mandate will be to keep the IR agenda alive in their departments. The IR will be launched by our Vice Chancellor before the end of November 2012. The target group for the launch will be the principals of our various campuses, directors of various institutes and chairmen of departments. We are banking on their support for the success of the IR.
The participation in OAW has brought our library to life. The library image has improved tremendously as they now realize that the library can be fun. The students have promised to make the OAW bigger and better this year.